Marriage: Meaning, types, forms & Purpose

What is marriage? Marriage is the legalized coming together of a man and a woman to live as husband and wife. It is a legal relationship which exist between two matured opposite sex for the purpose of procreation and fellowship. A normal marriage relationship must receive the consent or backing of the family of the man and the woman

Marriage gives the man the opportunity of performing the role of the need of the family and the woman the role of the homemaker and manager. It also provides a medium through which the societal values, norms and belief are passed to the next generation through the process of socialization.

Types of Marriage

There are three types of marriages in Nigeria

  1. Religious marriage (Christian and Islamic marriage)
  2. Traditional marriage
  3. Court marriage

Religious Marriage:

There are two types of religious marriage in Nigeria.

1. Christian marriage: This is the joining together of a man and a woman in a church by a priest, pastor or any man of God to become husband and wife as the case may be. The Christian marriage recognizes monogamy. Monogamy simply means one man having just only one wife.

A certificate is signed by the couple, the clergy man and with the witnesses of the couple. This certificate makes the marriage to be legally binding.

2. Islamic marriage: – This is a marriage Solemnized according to Islamic religious injunctions. It is normally called “Nikai” and conducted in the mosque or private homes by a recognized in the presence of the couples lmam families, friends and well-wishers.

At the end of the ceremony a certificate is signed by the couple, the lmam, Family representatives and given to the couple. This makes the marriage legally binding.

However, unlike the Christian marriage, the Islamic marriage allows polygamy. This means that the man is free to marry more than one wife.

Traditional or Customary Marriage

This is the kind of marriage performed or conducted according to Africa tradition or culture. The form it takes differs from one culture or tribe to another.

During the Ceremony, the husband pay’s the bride price, either in cash or kind depending on the practice of the community the ceremony is taking place. Like the Islamic marriage traditional marriage allows polygamy.

Court /Ordinance Marriage

This is also known as marriage under the marriage Act. It is usually conducted in a marriage registry by the marriage registrar. It is usually witnessed by families, friends and well-wishers of the couple. A certificate is an issued to the couple. Like allows marriage, it allows monogamy that is one man. One woman, However the couple can ask for a divorce, if they cannot live together as husband and wife. This can only take place after five years in marriage has been contracted

Forms of Marriage

The two forms of marriage are: –

  1. Monogamy
  2. Polygamy
  3. polyandry


  1. Monogamy: – This form of marriage allows a man to marry only one wife. The Christian marriage and marriage under the marriage Act are monogamous.
  2. Polygamous: This has two forms polygamy- This is a form of marriage where a man marries more than two wives at the same time.

     3. Polyandry: – This is a form of marriage where a woman marries more than a man at the same time.

Purpose of Marriage

  1. For Planning and progress
  2. For purposeful and Fulfilled life
  3. For procreation
  4. For Partnership
  5. For pleasure
  6. For psychological Needs
  7. For protection and Security.


  • Define marriage.
  • List and explain the three types of marriage.
  • Mention and explain two forms of marriage.

See also






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